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The American hotel chain, Marriott International has reopened all of its hotels in China and the group said that it has seen a recovery in business travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it was reported on Tuesday.

The world’s third-largest hotel chain has 350 outlets across China, reports the BBC.

Marriott gave an upbeat statement on Monday about its business in China as it emerges from coronavirus lockdowns.

Last week it said the financial impact from the pandemic has been more severe for the hotel chain than 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis combined.

In the statement, Marriott Chief Executive Arne Sorenson said the occupancy rates at its Chinese hotels had been as low as 7 per cent in late January when China was at its peak of cases.

But that occupancy rate is now at 40 per cent, according to the company.

“It’s not just leisure travel growing, but it is business travel. Chinese are flying again,” the BBC quoted Sorenson as saying.

However, he warned that occupancy might not recover to pre-coronavirus levels for several years.

The hotel group, which owns about 30 brands including Ritz-Carlton, St Regis and Sheraton, has extended furloughs for employees and reduced working weeks until early October.

“Given the company’s expectation that prior levels of business will not return until beyond 2021, the company anticipates a significant number of above-property position eliminations later this year,” it said in a statement.

Rival Hilton reopened all of its 255 hotels in China two weeks ago and introduced a CleanStay initiative to protect employees and guests, the BBC reported.

The coronavirus pandemic originated in the city of Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province, last December.

As of Tuesday, China registered 84,154 COVID-19 cases, with 4,638 deaths.

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